Valentine’s Day bring lots of fun for kids and adults, but with the fun it brings one of the most hazardous times of the year for our dogs and cats. Over 98% of the calls to the Animal Poison Control Hotline in mid-February are about chocolate ingestion by dogs!
The kind of chocolate and the amount are what is important if your pet consumes candy or baked goods. If you have the packaging, keep that because it will give your veterinarian the most information possible when trying to calculate toxicity levels based on ingredients. Bitter chocolate and dark chocolate are the worst offenders for our pets. It is really important to keep your Valentine’s candy up and away from your dogs and cats. Thoroughly check your kids backpacks too, that’s a common location that dogs have easy access to! Baked goods, chocolate covered nuts, treats, and coffee beans are also sources of chocolate for our furry friends.
There are a wide range of signs that can be seen after a cat or dog ingests chocolate. These range from vomiting and diarrhea, agitation, thirst, lethargy, racing heart rate, heart arrhythmias, hyperactivity, seizures, tremors and sometimes even death.
If you believe that your pet has ingested chocolate, please call your veterinarian immediately. It will be important to know what exactly they consumed or how much. There are several types of treatments that can be administered based on the toxicity risk. If consumption has occurred recently, inducing vomiting can sometimes be done to reduce the amount of chocolate in the body. Giving activated charcoal helps bind up the substance in the stomach so less is digested. Anti-vomiting medication, hospitalization and IV fluids are sometimes needed in extreme cases. Your veterinarian will be able to help you determine the best route of treatment based on your pet’s situation.
Valentine’s Day is a lot of fun; don’t let this topic scare you! Candy and chocolate are tempting for us and for our pets, but as long as you are careful about where you keep the treats, everything should be ok. If you have questions or concerns about your pets consuming chocolate, please call us at 217-529-4499. Our mission is to provide high quality, compassionate veterinary care with a personal touch. We strive to maintain a friendly and comfortable environment for pets and owners and are committed to building strong, respectful, and honest relationships with our clients. Through teamwork, we are dedicated to ensuring the best care possible and treating pets as if they were our own.
Hopefully everyone knows how hot weather can affect pets, but a lot of people don’t realize the effects of cold weather. Below are a few tips to keep pets safe during the winter months.
Stay inside. The best tip is to keep your dog or cat inside or at least in the garage. A lot of people believe that pets do not get as cold as humans because they have fur, but it’s very untrue. Like people, cats and dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia and should be kept inside. Longer-haired and thick-coated dog breeds, such as huskies and other dogs bred for colder climates, are more tolerant of cold weather; but no pet should be left outside for long periods of time in below-freezing weather. Also, remember in some states or counties it is against the law to leave a pet out in extreme conditions depending on the breed or shelter available.
When going out. You will need to take precautions when your pet does go outside in the cold. First, make sure they are not out too long, frostbite can set in as little as 30 minutes. Make sure you are checking your pet’s paws or ears for evidence of frostbite. Also, make sure you watch out for spots of ice. Especially in older pets who have a hard time getting around. Pets can fall and harm themselves just as people do. Pet safe ice melt is also a necessity. Non-pet safe ice melt can be ingested and cause medical issues. If you aren’t using safe ice melt, make sure you wipe your pet’s paws off after going out or you can purchase a pair of shoes for your dog. Lastly, if your pet is sensitive to the cold or has short hair you can purchase a sweater for them.
Shelter. We suggest you make a place indoors for your pets if the weather is too cold. Shelter needs to be off the ground facing away from the wind or out of wind all together. You can also place hay bales around the dog house to help deter wind even more. When getting your pets shelter ready for winter remember that smaller is better. The bigger the house the more heat it uses to fill up all the unused space. Also having a flap on the dog house keeps the heat in better. If you don’t think your pet will use the door flap, make sure you look up how to train a dog to use the door. If your dog won’t use the door flap, you can remove the flap. Make sure the house is slightly off the ground and use blankets or hay for warmth. Make sure you change bedding out frequently to prevent infections, smells and disease. As far as cats, you can buy a large plastic tote and cut a hole just big enough for your cat to get into the box. You can also look onYouTube about how to insulate your plastic tote.Food, water, and nutrition. Outside pets still need plenty of water and you need to make sure you have a heated bowl or frequently change the water to prevent freezing. Canned foods can also freeze outside. Dry food would be best in extreme temperatures. As far as nutrition, outside pets should be fed well and kept a little fuller in the cold weather months. Being underweight or overweight can make the weather worse on a dog or cat. Please contact your veterinarian if you have questions on what an ideal weight is for your pet.
Garage for the winter. As we discussed earlier, it’s best to move your pet into your house or garage. When placing your pet in the garage, you also need to pet proof it before leaving your pet alone. Make sure you put up all chemicals and check for leaks under your car. Also remember garages still can get cold enough to freeze. You can put a heater or heat lamp out with them. Make sure you are careful using either of those as a heat source. At the very least, use plenty of blankets that are off the ground and offer fresh water and food.
A few little things to remember. When starting your vehicle make sure you are loud and make a lot of noise. Stray cats will get on top of engines because of the warmth. Make sure you have a emergency kit with medicine, food, water and a blanket in case of an emergency. Keep your pets current on yearly exams and medications, especially pets with arthritis. Pets that currently have arthritis will experience more stiffness and pain during the colder months.
Our mission is to provide high quality, compassionate veterinary care with a personal touch. We strive to maintain a friendly and comfortable environment for pets and owners and are committed to building strong, respectful, and honest relationships with our clients. Through teamwork, we are dedicated to ensuring the best care possible and treating pets as if they were our own.
Written by: Josh K, information from AVMA
Curious pets may get into mischief and hurt themselves while investigating new decorations around the house. Cats may try to climb Christmas trees and both cats and dogs may try to ingest pieces of the tree, ornaments, and tinsel which can result in gastrointestinal upset or obstruction. Chewing on lights and electrical cords may result in burns. Holiday plants, such as Amaryllis mistletoe, pine, cedar, poinsettias, and holly can be dangerous or toxic if ingested. You can look up specific plants to see if they are toxic on the ASPCA webpage.
We enjoy many tasty foods and treats during the holiday season, but that doesn’t mean they are safe for our pets. Chocolate, grapes, raisins, and onions are all considered toxic to pets and any dish containing them should not be fed to your pet. In fact, you should avoid giving any table scraps or people food to your pets at any time because they can cause pancreatitis, even in small amounts. Pancreatitis can be life-threatening and causes severe diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, and abdominal pain after a pet eats rich/fatty foods or any food he/she is sensitive to. Xylitol is another toxic food hazard for pets and has been linked to liver failure and death in some dogs. Xylitol can be found in some baked goods, candy, gum, and even some brands of peanut butter. The safest strategy this holiday season is to continue feeding your pet’s regular diet, avoid sharing your yummy holiday food and treats, and make sure your pet can’t get into the trash!
Although holiday parties are fun for us, they can be a source of stress for our pets because of new people and noises. You should set aside a private, quiet area where your pets can go to get away from all of the commotion. An example would be a room with a crate and some favorite toys. If you know your pets will be stressed during a particular event, you may want to put them in their private space or crate before people arrive. Make sure your pets have a collar with identification and/or microchip and watch your pets closely so they don’t escape when people are coming and leaving. If you feel like your pet has severe anxiety during these situations, you can call us to discuss trying situational anxiety medications.
As always, please monitor your pets very closely this holiday season. If they get into anything that concerns you, please call us right away, 217-529-4499. Our mission is to provide high quality, compassionate veterinary care with a personal touch. We strive to maintain a friendly and comfortable environment for pets and owners and are committed to building strong, respectful, and honest relationships with our clients. Through teamwork, we are dedicated to ensuring the best care possible and treating pets as if they were our own.
Written by: Dr. Lyndsey Houmes
Obesity in Pets
Over half of today’s pets are overweight. It is a trend that we are seeing more often at the vet clinic as the years go by. Weight can be an awkward conversation to have with pet people. Chunkiness in dogs and cats is often seen as an endearing look and we all tend to love our pets by giving them treats and good things to eat. We, as veterinarians, are not trying to offend anyone by bringing awareness to weight but are trying to be your pet’s advocate for the future in order to prevent the myriad of diseases that are linked with obesity. Recently we posted the top ten conditions related to obesity in both cats and dogs on our facebook page. The most commonly diagnosed diseases secondary to being overweight are osteoarthritis, diabetes, urinary tract disease/cystitis, hepatitis/liver disease, heart failure, asthma, and kidney disease. Many of these illnesses are preventable with weight management.
How do you know if your pet is overweight?
Most veterinarians will do a body condition score of your pet at each visit. These assessments will put your pet into a category of under-weight, ideal weight, over-weight, and obese. See the chart below. Based on the body condition score, your veterinarian will make a recommendation regarding exercise and diet.
How do you get your pet to lose weight?
It is best to consult with your veterinarian about what methods will work best for your pet’s weight loss journey. Certain health conditions may restrict exercise or diet changes that can aid in weight loss. Weight loss techniques that we typically discuss with our clients are measuring the amount of food that is given daily, reducing the quantity of treats that are fed, increasing the amount of exercise that your pet gets, and sometimes switching to a lower calorie food or prescription diet. Again, it is necessary to speak with your veterinarian because they will be able to best guide your journey based on your pet’s specific needs.
Our mission is to provide high quality, compassionate veterinary care with a personal touch. We strive to maintain a friendly and comfortable environment for pets and owners and are committed to building strong, respectful, and honest relationships with our clients. Through teamwork, we are dedicated to ensuring the best care possible and treating pets as if they were our own. Call us today if your pet needs a weight loss intervention, 217-529-4499!
When searching for a new pet, you should ask yourself why should I shop for a pet when I can adopt?
There are hundreds of sweet, loving, and friendly companions who are stuck in shelters all around the United States. They are eager to please and just hoping to find a good, loving home.
Within 50 miles of Springifled, IL there are at least 865 animals available for adoption today, according to petfinder.com. Many of these animals don’t even understand what home is and now they face uncertainty, massive amounts of stress, and for the unlucky few, even death.
Here is an excellent resource for more information on Pet Adoption.
So what’s stopping you from saving a life today? Don’t shop, adopt!
Written by Steve S, West Lake Animal Hospital Veterinary Assistant
Litter box problems are the number one issue that we see cats for at West Lake Animal Hospital in Springfield Illinois. Typically when we examine at cat that has urine issues we hear from the client that the frustrating feline has been urinating and sometimes defecating outside of the litterbox. Some cats will go to the same spot repeatedly, others have certain objects they are going on like clothing, towels, and rugs, and a small percentage are going in random spots.
The first step is to have your veterinarian do a full exam to be sure your furry friend is otherwise in good shape and healthy. At West Lake Animal Hospital in Springfield we then collect a urine sample to run a urinalysis. How does one “catch a urine sample” on a cat? It’s not easy! Frequently we let them hang out at the clinic for a while with some special non-absorbable litter. A cystocentesis can be performed if necessary, and will be performed if a sterile sample is needed.
The urinalysis checks for infection, pH, specific gravity, crystals, blood, and a few other parameters that indicate the overall bladder health. If we find abnormal results that indicate infection, we will treat with antibiotics. Other treatments for diseases that involve inflammation or crystals may include prescription diets. If your cat has frequent cystitis (inflammation of the bladder) or urinary tract infections, there are some environmental changes that you can make to help prevent symptoms. It is advised to have one extra litter box than you have cats in your household. Encourage your cat to drink water by providing a water fountain and offering canned food as part of the diet which provides more moisture in the diet. We recommend rechecking urine samples two weeks after antibiotics to be sure the issue has been resolved.
If you have a cat that suffers from urine issues at home, it’s best to talk to your veterinarian about it. There are definite medical conditions that cause this in cats or sometimes it can be behavioral which your veterinarian can also discuss with you. Please call us if you have any questions regarding your cat’s health, 217-529-4499.
We are having a Biggest Loser Contest for our patients this spring! Since many humans are on a health and fitness journey early in the year, we thought it’d be good for our pets to join us! Cats and dogs are welcome to sign up; the deadline to enter is January 16. The contest will fun from February 1 through April 30. First prize is a year’s supply of free prescription pet food, and 2nd and 3rd place winners will receive a gift basket. All participants will be eating Hill’s Prescription Metabolic food throughout the contest. If you’d like to enter your pet, hurry and call the clinic and get them signed up today!
Check out this article from JAVMA, about how diets actually make cats more affectionate! https://www.avma.org/News/JAVMANews/Pages/160401f.aspx
And here are some awesome before and after pictures of pet’s who went on a 6 month weight loss journey (as reported by CBS news). http://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/pet-weight-loss-contest-before-and-after/
Please contact us in Springfield at 217-529-4499 to get your pet signed up for our Biggest Loser Challenge. Our mission is to provide high quality, compassionate veterinary care with a personal touch. We strive to maintain a friendly and comfortable environment for pets and owners and are committed to building strong, respectful, and honest relationships with our clients. Through teamwork, we are dedicated to ensuring the best care possible and treating pets as if they were our own.
What exactly constitutes a “senior” pet? In the veterinarian world in Springfield, we consider a dog or cat a senior when they reach the age of 8. For large breed dogs, their senior years begin at a younger age, closer to 6 years.
Many people shy away from adopting a senior pet because they think their time with them is short. However, these pets are such loyal companions and have so much love to give because they are grateful to have a wonderful family and home. The life expectancy of many dogs and cats can be 12-15 years or longer, and giving them a loving environment for the remainder of their lives is very rewarding. Senior pets often are more laid-back and have less energy than a young dog, which is a desirable trait for many pet owners.
With age comes more health concerns of course, but many of the senior pet diseases can be managed with changes to diet, environment, and/or medication. It is a good idea to have a senior pet examined by your veterinarian prior to finalizing the adoption. The most common health issues that we see in senior animals are arthritis, liver or kidney disease, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Don’t let this list scare you away from adopting a sweet senior and giving them the best loving home they’ve ever had. With well managed care, they can maintain a great quality of life for years as a member of your family.
Often, rescues and shelters will have Senior Pet Programs where discounts are offered for the adoption of a senior pet. If this is something you are interested in, be sure to ask the staff when you go to find your new forever friend!
If we can answer any questions for you regarding senior pet health or where to find a senior pet to adopt, please contact us in Springfield at 217-529-4499. Our mission is to provide high quality, compassionate veterinary care with a personal touch. We strive to maintain a friendly and comfortable environment for pets and owners and are committed to building strong, respectful, and honest relationships with our clients. Through teamwork, we are dedicated to ensuring the best care possible and treating pets as if they were our own.
Below are some links of local shelters who adopt out senior pets:
Diabetes mellitus is a disease that both dogs and cats can develop, although the disease differs between species somewhat. The clinical signs that many pet owners report early in the disease process are weight gain, excessive thirst, increased frequency in urination, urinating outside the litter box or having accidents in the house, and increased appetite. As the disease progresses, the clinical signs are typically weight loss, lethargy, not eating, and vomiting.
Veterinarians will suspect diabetes based on a pet’s history and the clinical signs that the pet owner has seen. A urinalysis and blood test can be done to diagnose a cat or dog with diabetes. Once the blood glucose reaches a certain level, it will actually start spilling out into the urine and we sometimes see this when we are checking a cat for a urinary tract infection.
Once a diagnosis of diabetes has been made, it will be important to follow the advice of your veterinarian very closely. Treatment will vary based on species and your particular pet. Dogs more commonly have Type 1 diabetes; which is when insulin-secreting cells are destroyed, thus making the dog dependant on an outside source of insulin. Cats develop inadequate or delayed insulin secretion (Type 2), and often cats can be controlled with diet alone after the blood glucose is stabilized initially with insulin.
We teach pet owner’s how to give insulin at home, which will be given every 12 hours. Periodic blood work will be required, more frequently right after diagnosis, to ensure that the blood glucose normalizes. We recommend a special diet that will aid in weight loss and controlling the blood glucose. Cats can sometimes be taken off insulin and controlled with diet alone.
If diabetes is untreated, it can cause the pet to become very sick and can be fatal. The body will go into a state of ketoacidosis causing electrolyte imbalances, dehydration, kidney failure and obtundation. Pets will require hospitalization for several days and the prognosis is guarded.
If you think your pet is showing signs of diabetes, please contact us in Springfield at 217-529-4499 to get an appointment set up right away. Our mission is to provide high quality, compassionate veterinary care with a personal touch. We strive to maintain a friendly and comfortable environment for pets and owners and are committed to building strong, respectful, and honest relationships with our clients. Through teamwork, we are dedicated to ensuring the best care possible and treating pets as if they were our own.
Chocolate and xylitol (a sugar substitute) can be toxic to pets. It is important to keep all candy in a place that is inaccessible by your pets. If your pet does consume candy, please call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control right away, 1-888-426-4435.
Doorbells, strangers in masks, and an open door can be a brewing storm of anxiety and all a stressed pet needs for a great escape. It might be best to have your pet in another room with the door closed to decrease their stress, or at least have your dog on a leash in order to keep them close by you. This is a great time to be sure that your pet’s microchip information is up to date, just in case.
If you decide to dress your pet up in a cute costume, be sure it fits and is not too snug, especially around the neck. Pets like to roll and rub on the floor sometimes with clothes on, so it is important that there are no constricting parts around the neck area. Another thing to keep in mind is any small parts that come on the costume, cats and dogs have been known to chew these off, which is a fright that no one needs.
Candles, Jack-0-Lanterns with candles, and light strands can be dangerous to a pet. Pumpkins and candles can easily be knocked over by an unknowing dog or cat, and for some reason strands of lights are often chewed on by dogs and cats. Be sure to only have candles going in places that are supervised or put decorations in places where they can’t be knocked over. And always turn light strands off if you are not nearby to avoid your pet getting injured.
We would love to see your Halloween pets in costume or trick-or-treating with the family. Send us pictures or stop by the clinic! Our mission is to provide high quality, compassionate veterinary care with a personal touch. We strive to maintain a friendly and comfortable environment for pets and owners and are committed to building strong, respectful, and honest relationships with our clients. Through teamwork, we are dedicated to ensuring the best care possible and treating pets as if they were our own.